Learning English is not just about sitting in classes. For many students, a good social programme will not only make their stay enjoyable, but also help their learning.
Most schools run a varied programme of evenings out and excursions. According to Bob South, who is the social programme manager at Kingsway English Centre in Worcester, there are really good reasons to join the outings.
"I get a great deal of support from the teaching team here - we work together," he says.
"If the social programme is working well it helps the group in class. They work better together and talk more.
"We consider the social programme as part of the learning experience - it is putting the language and the culture together."
Bob says there is one rule on his trips: the students must speak English to each other. He says most students do make the effort although it can be really hard for those with lower skills.
One of the popular evenings he organises takes the students to a local pub for a meal and to play skittles. Bob takes along songbooks and teaches the students British songs that they can learn easily.
Bob's regular trips include days spent in Bath and Stonehenge, and London. The groups often also go ice-skating, with some students simply going along to watch and enjoy a meal with their friends.
"A good social programme is great for getting students together and helping them get more out of their experience," says Bob.
Language centres usually include information about their social programmes on their websites, as well as photos of students enjoying themselves. It's worth having a look at these before you make your final choice of where to study.
by Susan Young - firstname.lastname@example.org